At a Thursday night Brown Concert Agency release party that stretched into Friday, an auditorium full of students waited eagerly in Sayles Hall to hear who would headline the first in-person Spring Weekend in three years. At midnight, BCA unveiled a video announcing its star-studded lineup, with Amaarae, Flo Milli and Smino performing Friday, April 29 and Undertow Brass Band, Maye, Tems and Ari Lennox performing Saturday, April 30.
After being canceled in 2020 and held virtually in 2021, this year’s Spring Weekend will be the first juniors, sophomores and first-years experience in person. The three-year interruption posed substantial organizational challenges for BCA, who started planning the event as early as last summer.
“It was really tricky just because out of all of our board, only two of us have experienced the last in-person Spring Weekend,” Kenney Nguyen ’22.5, BCA co-chair, said. “There's actually a big learning curve.”
Ellie Barksdale ’23, BCA co-chair, has never witnessed an in-person Spring Weekend either, and said that she feels the organization has lost a level of “institutional knowledge,” requiring BCA to “redefine” its operations and search through records and contact alumni to better understand the event’s standards.
Despite these challenges, BCA delivered with a line-up that generated high levels of enthusiasm in the Brown community.
“They absolutely killed the lineup,” Iman Hussain ’23 said. “This is literally my dream lineup, and Amaarae is my favorite singer.”
Amaarae is an Afropop and R&B singer-songwriter and producer. Her 2020 album The Angel You Don’t Know saw widespread success, and a remix of “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY” featuring Kali Uchis went viral in 2021, making it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Amaarae is also known for examining topics of gender, sexuality and race in her music.
Amaarae isn't the only big name setting foot on campus in April. Flo Milli, an American rapper, saw her breakout track “Beef FloMix” place number two on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart in 2019. Her 2020 album “Ho, why is you here?” quickly earned commercial success and critical acclaim.
“I’m super excited, I love Flo Milli,” Jason Goodman ’24 said at the event. “She’s one of the only (artists) I know, but it's just such hype music, everyone got so excited.”
Rapper and singer Smino, whose albums include the 2017 “blkswn” and the 2018 “NOIR,” will also be performing at the event.
Saturday’s show will feature Maye, a Venezuelan-born singer-songwriter best known for her first two singles, “My Love” and “Tú.” Although less known than some of the other artists featured, Maye has been heralded as a fresh voice in the Latin American music scene.
The performers also include two Grammy-nominated R&B artists: Tems and Ari Lennox. Tems is a Nigerian singer had two singles in the Top 40 in 2021, including a feature on Wizkid’s “Essence” which was nominated for the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance in 2022. Ari Lennox’s 2021 single “Pressure” placed on Billboard’s Hot 100, and her feature on the 2019 Dreamville album “Revenge Of The Dreamers III” was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
When selecting artists, BCA wanted to increase its variety of musicians compared to previous years. “We wanted to expand on genre diversity because in all of the years we’ve had BCA there are certain fragments of the population that we have never represented before,” Nguyen said.
Because the majority of undergraduates have never experienced an in-person Spring Weekend before, BCA “wanted to make sure this would be one to remember,” Nguyen said. He hopes it will revive the “integral” sense of community this annual event fostered in the past.
Barksdale also hopes that students are excited to experience Spring Weekend together again “and to cling onto this tradition that has meant so much to us in the past,” she said.